28 November, 2020

Blog

What Went Wrong At Ceylon Today: The Editor In Chief Speaks Out

By  Lalith Allahakkoon –

Lalith Allahakkoon

Note :The  Editor in Chief Lalith Allahakkoon wrote to all editors today explaining the  sequence of events which occurred at the Ceylon Today. We reproduce his letter below. The Colombo Telegraph has spoken to Executive Director of Ceylon Newspapers Dushyantha Basnayake last Friday and he promised to send us their version of the story, but we haven’t received it yet.

By  Lalith Allahakkoon –

1.      At around 7 p.m. on the night of Wednesday June 13, Executive Director of Ceylon Newspapers Mr. Dushyantha Basnayake summoned me to his office and said there were several issues to be discussed. Firstly, he informed me that the management had decided to terminate the employment of Senior Cartoonist at Ceylon Today Wasantha Siriwardane. I informed him that while I was satisfied with his performance, if the management was not happy with him and they wished to discontinue him, he should firstly be warned in writing to give him an opportunity to rectify matters.

2.      Subsequently Mr. Basnayake informed me that the management had decided to ask me to leave due to several reasons – (a) My alleged association with Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP –(with whom I informed him I have not even had a conversation in the past year, but even if I was, as a journalist and an editor I do not see how this would constitute a wrongdoing) – (b) that I failed to greet Chairman Tiran Alles at a reception held at the Indian High Commissioner’s residence in Colombo and (c) I failed to publish the unsubstantiated lead story by the Mawbima saying there would be a presidential election in 2013 and contradicted the story the next day. However on this point I clarified that the Ceylon Today story was related to the provincial council elections and not to the presidential elections. I also informed him that in any case the Mawbima lead story was inaccurate and had no legal basis in my opinion. In my experience, a newspaper cannot publish based on the sensational impact of a story alone, but must adhere to certain ethic codes and accuracy.

3.      Mr. Basnayake then informed me that my editorial policy and the management’s editorial policy do not tally. I reminded him that when this newspaper was begun, Chairman Tiran Alles said Ceylon Today would be an independent and non-partisan newspaper – and even told the editorial team that they would not be required to publish stories praising him. However as time progressed, and subsequent to everything that has happened, the impression created  is that the Chairman’s intention was to use me and my editorial team to specifically target and attack his political opponents. I informed Mr. Basnayake that as an editor I could not compromise on journalistic ethics and editorial independence as spelled out by the company at the outset of this project. If there was dissatisfaction with my performance, up to June 13, the management had not indicated this to me in writing or in any other way.

4.      Mr. Basnayake then informed me that the management wanted me to leave. I requested the termination notice in writing.

5.      On the morning of Thursday June 14, members of the Ceylon Today staff informed me that Hana Ibrahim had summoned an editorial meeting and announced that the management had asked me to leave. She requested the staff to extend their support to her to publish Ceylon Today. She told the editorial staff that they must help her to carry forward my ideas in my absence.

6.      A few hours later, Mr. Basnayake summoned a meeting of Ceylon Today Department Heads and informed them that the management had made the decision to terminate me because I was not following the editorial policy line the management wanted. Mr. Basnayake requested the heads of department to lend their support to Ms. Ibrahim. Subsequently Mr. Basnayake held private meetings with senior editors Wilson Gnanadass and Dharisha Bastians to convince them to remain at Ceylon Today, urging them that despite my removal, they should continue to work at the newspaper.

7.      On June 14 when I reported to work and made several telephone calls to Mr. Basnayake informing him that since I had not been served with the letter of termination so far, I had been compelled to report to work. He told me repeatedly that the letter would arrive within an hour, 30 minutes etc.

8.      Finally Mr. Basnayake asked me to return to my residence and said that he would deliver the letter to my residence.

9.  Following announcements by Ms. Hana Ibrahim and subsequently the management (Mr. Basnayake) that I had been terminated and Ms. Ibrahim would be tasked with overseeing Ceylon Today operations, four senior journalists at the newspaper tendered their resignations to Ms. Ibrahim in protest. They were Deputy Editors Wilson Gnanadass and Dharisha Bastians, and senior journalists Rasika Jayakody and Dinidu De Alwis. They informed Ms. Ibrahim that they disagreed with the management decision to summarily dismiss me for trying to maintain editorial independence that was promised by the management when the newspaper commenced publication.

10     I made several telephone calls to him on June 15, and yet again Mr. Basnayake promised to get back to me in an hour. Since that time, he has ceased to respond to my telephone calls.

11.     On Saturday (June 16) I reported to work in order to coordinate the Sunday newspaper. When I entered my office, I found it locked. The security officers subsequently unlocked the door but when I entered and attempted to commence work, I found that my official Computer had been deactivated and I no longer was able to access my machine.

Lalith Allahakkoon

Director / Editor in Chief

Ceylon Today

June 17, 2012

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    You are better off not working for a third class buffoon like Tiran Alles. What is surprising is not that you got fired but why you actually decided to work for such low lives in the first place. But take courage that the people in this country silently salute the likes of you who cannot be bought over by corrupt politicians and businessmen.

  • 0
    0

    So now we have one side of the story. Let us hear the other side.

  • 1
    0

    Go ahead start your own publication Lalith.

    You can do it. Sri Lankans badly need it. Not just in English, but Sinhalese and Tamil as well.

    Maintain the same high standards and intergrity. Never compromise on these values.

  • 1
    0

    Take heart that a large number of voiceless people like us stand by a strong minded person like you

  • 1
    0

    Tiran Alles is an absolute opportunist like his father RI Alles the founder of Gateway College. First he helped MR with the LTTE to get MR elected. Thereafter he tried to gain the maximum from MR trying to blackmail him with the evidence of Basil and Emil Kanthan meeting where the LTTE was paid. Then when Tiran got hammered he sought help from Ranil Wickremasinghe, the very man whom they defied. After MR got the business acquisition act in place for non performing Institutions, Tiran is back playing ball with MR for the fear of losing Gateway College.

  • 0
    0

    Thanks for this. Be of good courage.
    Very sorry to hear about this situation. Seems like Hanna Ibrahim will now become what Champika Liyanarachchi became in the Daily Mirror after Gota the White Van Goon threatened her – a call girl puppet on a string. Now the Daily Mirror is a piece of trash good to wipe Gota’s ass!

    In any case Tiran Alles who supports Sarath Fonseka who has a pretty awful record must be awful as well. Hope you all would be able to find some independent corporate sponsors and start your own news paper since we desperately need independent, critical and insightful journalism which was what the Ceylon Today provided when you ran it. Thanks it was a very good effort!

    • 0
      0

      Dear Laid back,

      It seems you have a personal grudge towards the current editor of the Daily mirror. As an avid reader of the newspaper i have to point out that thus far in this country there isn’t a proper newspaper which can truly deliver a balanced view to the current affairs that take place in this country. It’s always and will be biased towards one side may it be a newspaper, blog, online website that criticizes or praises the government. Having said that i must point out that the Daily mirror is the ONLY newspaper that is close enough to achieving this.

      I remember sometime back when the war was on the defense ministry themselves launched into the above mentioned editor Champika by drawing a cartoon of her as a puppy tied to Prabhakaran’s leg. So i think its unfair that you pose these unwanted allegations at her and the daily mirror.

      Regards,

      Wake up

      • 0
        0

        Hey Wake-up..it seems that you must ‘wake up’ as well!

        The DM has sadly deteriorated from wht it used to be. Its editorials are full of typos, grammatical errors and uses just plain bad language.

        It has few original anlyses and just churns out stuff. It has no incisive political analysis. Certainly it is not your typical example of a professional well run newspaper though I do agree that personal attacks directed against anyone is not fair.

  • 0
    0

    As an OB of DS, I can say principal Alles sir did a lot of good things, founding DS in the way he did and the way he ran it. Mr. RIT Alles is a role model to follow in several matters by Sri Lanka politicians.

    Nevertheless some say that he was a ‘hypocrite’ for establishing a ‘fee levying school’ after claiming to be influenced by such giants of Sri lanka free education system, Hon. I.M.R.A Iriyagolla. Yet, contribution by Mr. Alles in founding Sri Lanka’s most successful tri-lingual school in ‘post independence Ceylon’, is remarkable.

    And what does his ‘putha’ Tiran do now?

    I am deeply disappointed in his tyrannical behavior in interference with press and media freedom at ‘Ceylon Today’ – and his callous attitude with regards to the sufferings of Sri Lanka’s Tamils face at the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa who was brought to power by him. That is, Tiran Alles has never uttered any remorse towards what he and LTTE brought on the Tamils and all Sri Lankan people at large by way of installing a tyrant at the helm of power in the island.

    • 0
      0

      Truth, nothing but the truth.

  • 1
    0

    Thank You Lalith

  • 1
    0

    A rare show of exemplary back-bone…. we salute you Sir, for not ‘selling your soul for a mess of pottage’ and those spirited others who resigned on a matter of principle, at who knows how much personal hardship…..

  • 0
    0

    This is the Sri Lankan culture. Praise! Praise! Praise! the top. Otherwise hell doth come on you. Everyone starts with by saying you must work independently and professionally correct.

    Whether it is a minion like TA or a bigger wig it is the same because everyone likes praise.

    Note also how the way the private sector sacks people. Lock the guy out! No termination letter!

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  • 0
    0

    They have taken correct decision, on the ground of Money and Capital decided every thing beyond Freedom of Expression.You have to set your mind according policy formulated By Tiran Allas and his colleuges.
    Allas is most educate-elite turn politican in presnet day, politics is Sri lanaka.Do not forget he was person who liberated ex-genaral Sartah Fonseka from Jail.

  • 0
    0

    Its surprising to see the son’s of that gentleman, Mr RIT Alles go this low in politics and business. After his removal from DS Mr Alles [we were recruited from all over Sri Lanka] joined Zahira Colombo where he did a commendable job in bringing up standards in every sphere [Sports/Academic/Social/Religious]. Unfortunately, he was lost to ZCC due to some swollen headed old boys and parents who did not want his services, because he did not want to become their lackey in administering school affairs.
    Now the son’s have already tarnished the good name he had in Sri Lanka in doing dirty politics and business. The MP shall be tried for treason with the rest of the guys who were there in bribing LTTE to gain an unlikely victory. But, again there is no independent judicial or political system in Sri Lanka to do that. Watching the pathetic affairs from down under.

  • 0
    0

    this man playing double game. first su.n then times. then island .then nation then today milindas henchman

    • 0
      0

      Well he was the first editor of Midweek Mirror, Daily Mirror, Nation and Ceylon Today. Double game or not that record is not easily broken.

  • 0
    0

    I personally know Tiran Alles and needless to say he is a shameless businessman who would sell even his parents for his own benefit and in fact he has substantiated this throughout the past few years. [Edited out] Tiran Alles, undoubtedly, is a disgrace to his father’s name and as a nation, we should be ashamed of third grade parliamentarians of this nature.

    Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    http://colombotelegraph.com/comments-policy/
    In short:
    • If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
    • Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
    • Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

  • 0
    0

    Lalith Alahakoon has a strange track record. He and Tiran Alles deserve each other. Now they are having a messy divorce and airing their dirty linen in public.

    Isn’t this the same Lalith Alahakkoon who was sacked from the Sun in 1987 and sued that company? He also sued Iqbal Athas who was his boss at the Sun.

    He also spent many years sabotaging Sinha Ratnatunga, who was his boss at Sunday Times.

    And what happened when he was appointed Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan by the present government and then sacked within a week? That was right after his long-time friend Keith Noyahr was kidnapped in a white van, tortured and nearly murdered by government goons.

  • 0
    0

    Lalith and all his pet poodles simply deserved what he got!! Dharisha Bastians, with less number of years in journalism that most others in the industry parachuted to that post, [Edited out] The Daily Mirror, the Nation ( now the damnation) and the Ceylon Toddy of late. No self respecting employer will ever touch any of them. Possibly, this is reliving the heat of the silent night !!!

    Moreso, Wilson Gnanadass is [Edited out] Never knew what he was doing as News Editor of the Sunday Leader and Lasantha W had to fill up the pages.

    Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    http://colombotelegraph.com/comments-policy/
    In short:
    • If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
    • Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
    • Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

  • 0
    0

    To think that all these pet poodles got 100,000 + salaries and all perks for what, which much more senior and capable people were deprived of in other institutions did not even dream of ? !!! What was the rationale ? What was the justification ? What was so special about that newspaper which usually recycles news stories in other papers in the same words a week or so later ? For instance, the Buddhist monks not being allowed to be in Parliament was broken in The Island a week before the Ceylon Today carried it. So, was the story that the government was seeking legal opinion on the leasing of the 99 tanks of the Trincomalee tank farm to Lanka IOC which was also in The Island a week before!!! That is what happens when chronic imbeciles and parachutes rule the roost with all the perks with little or nothing to justify it!! People, like water, eventually find their own levels !! Lalith himself was no writer, having ruined the Sunday Times political column and after very nearly sending Sinha Ratnatunga to jail over the heat of the silent night!!!

  • 0
    0

    Lalith lasted only a day in the Islamabad High Commission and Jayalath Weerakkody wanted him out!!! Not a week !!!

  • 0
    0

    There was no show of valour by Lalith Alahakoon, Dharisha Bastians Wilson Gnanadass in resigning !! They did so, prior to the inquiry, knowing well that they would have been sacked!!

  • 0
    0

    The lead stories in one newspaper is the lead story in the Ceylon Today a week later in the same words !!! So much for breaking news and plagiarism!!!

  • 0
    0

    The lesson from this is that there are no short cuts to the top and almost no dream jobs !

    Just soldier on “O Salarymen” of this world.

    This is why the minimum requirement for a political candidate should be – “Holding down a job in the private sector for 10 years “

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.